Double Yoi! Cope got his start at Allderdice

by Julian Routh

No one knows where legendary Pittsburgh Steelers play-by-play caller Myron Cope first shouted “Yoi!,” but it very well could have been at Taylor Allderdice High School in 1947.

His high-pitched voice, which took its screechy roots in Squirrel Hill, went on to captivate millions of listeners in his 35 years in the broadcast booth. His ‘Terrible Towel,’ which he invented in 1975, became an iconic symbol of Steelers football.

After attending Allderdice, Cope studied print journalism at the University of Pittsburgh, where he graduated in 1951, according to a biography by Penn State University. He took his talents to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and was later a freelance writer for Sports Illustrated.

From there, Cope was approached by WTAE radio about doing broadcasts, a time Cope recalled in an interview with the University of Pittsburgh’s Pitt Magazine.

Photo credit: The New York Times

Photo credit: The New York Times

“I was freelance writing for Sports Illustrated and other magazines and the program director at WTAE Radio said, ‘We’d like you to do commentary for us.’ I said, ‘Don’t try to kid me. I’ve heard my voice on tape.’ And he said, ‘That’s okay. Obnoxious voices are coming into style.’”

Cope always had a knack for writing, but his trademark broadcasts will always be remembered most fondly. From 1970 to 2005, he was the voice of the Steelers, and “was part of the Steelers turnaround of the ‘70s,” according to Pittsburgh Tribune Review writer Bob Bauder.

Cope was one of three legendary sportscasters in the city of Pittsburgh, along with Mike Lange and Bob Prince, Bauder said.

“Cope was different than Lange and Prince ,” said Bauder, who profiled Cope several years before he died. “He was a writer before he became a broadcaster.”

The city will never hear anything like Cope’s Pittsburghese catchphrases again, either. The broadcaster’s most famous idioms were “Hum-hah,” “Okel Dokel,” “Yoi,” “Double Yoi” and the rare “Triple Yoi.”

Bauder, who sat in on one of Cope’s Steelers’ broadcasts, said he remembers the game.

“It was toward the end of his career so [Cope] wasn’t as animated,” Bauder said. “A few Yoi’s came out. It was him and Bill Hillgrove in there, and Tunch Ilkin was on the sidelines. They had a great camaraderie. The atmosphere was very loose.”

Cope, who died of respiratory failure in 2008, was truly one of a kind, and his voice will forever represent Pittsburgh.

“He was a legend,” Bauder said. “The city will never see another Myron Cope.”